This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the quiet, little town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, home to one of the strangest urban legends in American folklore — that of the mysterious Mothman. During the 1960s you see, many people in the area began to report encounters with a macabre, winged humanoid. Just a year and a month after Mothman’s initial appearance, disaster would strike. The Silver Bridge, which spanned the nearby Ohio River, collapsed on December 15, 1967, tragically killing 46 people. Most of the locals still feel that the appearance of Mothman had served as a bad omen and that there was a connection.
Then there is the area itself, allegedly cursed by a Shawnee Chief and predisposed to host a variety of inexplicable occurrences including UFOs, ghost haunts, and even occasional visits from mysterious Men in Black. Nearby, there was a deserted TNT factory, which had been used to manufacture and store explosives during World War II. This is where the most memorable Mothman encounter occurred on November 15, 1966, when two young couples were cruising the area for lack of anything better to do.
Suddenly, they spotted the most enigmatic and notorious figure in the annals of the unexplained: a winged, seemingly headless, manlike creature standing six feet tall with enormous bat-like wings and huge red eyes that seemed to have a hypnotic effect. The terrifying apparition chased their car at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour, as they raced into town in order to report the incident to the local police. Ultimately, news of their encounter made the news and before long Point Pleasant was turned upside down as mass hysteria ensued.
Today, the township does its best to make a positive out of the befuddling events of that time. A statue of Mothman greets curiosity seekers on the town's main street and a nearby museum sells t-shirts and bumper stickers that pay homage to the unearthly visitor.
- Ken Gerhard